Friday, 26 February 2010

Off sick and helping the police with their enquiries

I've been off sick for two days and, this morning, only cycled as far as the station.

I feel utterly pathetic. I was mildy perked up however by a happy coincidence this morning. As I parked up I was asked, very politely, whether I would take part in a cycling survey by two PCSOs.

As I hadn't yet got my locks out I agreed and answered their questions while locking Reg up. It was standard stuff: how safe do you feel the roads are, how do you rate cycling facilities, are you aware it's illegal to cycle on the pavements? (To which I answered a firm yes and said more should be done to get the message out there and clamp down on it,)

I answered the questions and chatted about the rubbishness of cycle lanes on the Uxbridge Road. As I was chatting to them I heard a call 'Weenie? Are you ok?' from across the road. My younger sister was stepping out of dad's van as he'd given her a lift and they both looked horrified. 'Are you being arrested?!' came the next question.

The PCSOs had the good grace to giggle when I pointed out that this was why they'd had bad luck in getting participants. Despite the stain on my character it was good to see the police doing something nice for cyclists, now all they need to do is have a quiet word with the motorists giving me a hard time every day.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Oh. My. God.

I finally made it!

The number of followers now dictates that there are TWO pages!

There's only one person on the second page but...


Hurrah!

Snap bracelets in violent pink!

I, like many in their mid-twenties, vividly remember the advent of the snap bracelet.

How the owners were envied as they magically took a seemingly solid straight piece of plastic and tapped it into a round bracelet. I begged my parents for them and they, cruelly, pointed out that they were pointless tat. But now I'm a grown up, and I have TWO!

Yes, I managed to find some fabulous ones by Ronhill in a violent and vivid reflective pink.

While cycling home recently I ended up behind my mum's car as she drove home and my older sister noticed that, although she could see my body in the white jersey and they yellow Sam Browne tabard, the black base layer I wore underneath meant no one could see me signal.

I try to signal all the time and it bothered me. So snap bracelets are actually a great way to combat this. One round each wrist and you're away.

Pointless tat indeed!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Taking the train and a fantastic pothole idea!

It was an eventful weekend cycle-wise.

On Saturday, my lovely sister and I decided to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. It was cold but sunny and clear so I went a roundabout route via Kew and Putney on Reg. It was lovely except for the lecture on class structure that I was given by some poncy git who I had asked directions from. What a nob.

Anyhoo, I floated through the city, went along the Thames and just loved it.

I saw some beautiful photographs and had delicious coffee and lots of giggles with said sister before pedalling home via a more direct route. I was cold but triumphant when I got home.

Sunday was a bit less of a triumph. It was pi**ing it down and Mr Weenie was laid up with rugby injuries. I decided to go for it and cycled to do the shopping.

The cats needed food (they're sensitive and only tolerate about two types) so I had to go to Brentford to Pets at Home. The rain was torrential and I got utterly drenched. The shop was closed so I hit the nearest supermarket for human food before returning to get the cat food. By this time it had, of course, stopped raining.

I got home wet and cold. And grumpy. It took most of the day to get warm again and when I looked out of the window this morning and saw the rain, I made a drastic decision. I took the train.

Sometimes it just aint worth it.

In more exciting news, a big thank you to Abby for the link to pothole gardens! What a marvellous idea. Anyone for composting?

Friday, 19 February 2010

Watch out for potholes ladies

Cycling at speed last night I hit one that was so deep I feared for my future ability to procreate.

Puddles, they hide a multitude of sins!

The joy of contacts

I used to wear contact when singing but haven't for years. I just couldn't be bothered.

Heavy rain a couple of weeks ago though made me rethink the issue. The fact is that glasses are not ideal when it's weeing with rain. I stop regularly to wipe mine off but I know many people don't and I don't like the way the water can alter your perspective on curved lenses.

So I decided to give monthlies a go and, if successful, I may well wear those ones you wear for weeks at a time.

Last night I was put to the test, it was tipping it down.

I already own a pair of specialist cycle glasses that came free with a Wiggle order. CC had been borrowing them during the snow. Last night I put my contacts in, put my glasses on and off I went.

What a revelation. My vision was far better and, although I still had to do a quick stop-and-wipe periodically, the specialist glasses are designed to stop the water running down your forehead into your eyes (so you don't get water on the inside) and the water slides off the lenses far more easily. So, in fact, I could wipe them when already stopped at traffic lights when the lack of motion meant steam off my skin misted them up.

Mr Weenie says it's a bit weird to see me without glasses but, hopefully, he just means it's the classic film thing of me letting down my hair and taking off my glasses and suddenly turning into Megan Fox. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

What to wear?

This morning, like many women, I was torn over what to wear.

Hmmmmmm, should I go practical? Perhaps the pink? But those leggings make my bum look big, even if they are warm and snuggly. Sigh, it's all so complicated.

In the end I plumped for my winter fleecy leggings with high waist, my rather slinky black wool base layer with a short-sleeve jersey in pink, black and white, a reflective yellow tabard just in case I took my jacket off part-way, and, over the top, a yellow high-vis jacket with bikers' stripe up the back for that authentic cyclist look.

Feeling good and looking fine I slinked my way out of the door with accessories (Reg and my panniers) in black and red to hint at vampish undertones.

Yes, I've been reading far too many fashion columns.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

What a difference a day makes...

24 little hours, brought the sun and the flowers, where there used to be rain...... (Is a very old jazz song.)

Last night I came home in the pouring rain and was miserable.

I stopped regularly to wipe off my glasses, put up with drivers not looking, misted side windows that meant people couldn't see me and freezing hands.

I got home and stripped before putting nearly everything I was wearing into the washing machine and having a very hot shower. I was massively grumpy and Mr Weenie bought me pizza to cheer me up. I was thoroughly fed up and decided that if this morning was anything like last night I'd take the train.

So you can imagine my joy when I woke up to blue skies and dry weather.

All my clothes had dried on the radiators (apart from the shoes but they were only slightly damp) so I threw them on and got going. I flew through Ealing and was loving it until I hit the section just before Acton.

Note to bendy bus driver:

When two cyclists are ahead of you in the bus lane going 20mph and the next stop is less than 150 yards away DON'T attempt an overtake and and nearly crush the second one (me) when you cut her up. Just drive behind.

The complaint's been lodged and the man from TfL agreed it sounded like the driver was being a bit thick.

I refused to let it ruin my day though. Am full of the joys and am bouncy with energy. Hurray for sunshine!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Eugh.

Sorry, arse too wet and soggy for me to be in any fit state to post. Eugh.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Oh Petronella, what were you thinking?

Petronella Wyatt has got herself in a mess over cycling.

In the Daily Mail she's written of how her mother was knocked down and badly injured by a cyclist and that she is now attacking the cult of cycling.

Now, let me make clear that I fully believe whoever hit her mother then cycled off should be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law because it was a disgusting thing to do.

However, tarring all cyclists with the same brush and then admitting that she bought a bike and 'wobbled the wrong way up one-way streets' for three days before giving up, undermines her argument somewhat.

I've accidentally gone the wrong way down a one-way street before, as have several drivers I know. I've immediately stopped and got off the road when I realised (something a car cannot do). Moreover, I didn't blindly assume I'd be able to cycle on-road just because I'd bought a bicycle. I practiced off-road first and built up my road experience before tackling larger roads, why? Because I'm not stupid, that's why.

Perhaps is Ms Wyatt had done the same she would have avoided the 'hysterical and petrified' state she got into.

People like Ms Wyatt should get a grip, on an Oyster card ideally.

** Update: the Mail have not published any comments on her piece and have had to put a correction at the bottom as her assertion that motorists in Brussels would be automatically at fault in collisions with cyclists under new laws was 'factually inaccurate'. Hilarious!

Feeling dangerous?

This morning I had an unfortunate fairy visitation.

A beer bottle had been smashed in the road near home and although I went over the glass yesterday I thought I'd got away with it. Apparently not. I got that squidgy tyre feeling in west Ealing.

I pulled over and commenced work. A middle-aged guy got chatting with me and ended up attempting to overtake the repair. Dunno why this always happens to me but the 'damsel in distress' response seems to be triggered by my presence.

It was all very well-meaning so I let it go. What did rankle though was his insistence on telling me how dangerous cycling is. Over and over and over and over. He just would not let it go.

As I took the tyre off, as I found the hole, as I prepared the site, as I applied the patch, as I squidged the inner tube back into the tyre, as I put the tyre back on, as I pumped it all back up.

I know cycling's not for everyone but it's not like I'm firing myself out of a cannon to work every morning. Sheesh.

Friday, 12 February 2010

What was that guy's problem?

I was running late today so there was less traffic than usual.

Mr Weenie and I ended up heading off at the same time and on the same route for a mile or so. If he's reading, laughing and pointing while overtaking me is NOT funny nor very nice. You are mean.

Anyway, as I shot through Ealing Broadway and headed for Ealing Common I heard the unmistakable blaring of someone leaning on their car horn repeatedly. I glanced behind and saw a guy in a small blue car careering past a cyclists far too close, glaring at him and leaning on said horn.

It appeared that the problem was the skip that has been blocking part of the cycle lane for a while in Ealing Broadway. Cyclists are forced to swing out into the main traffic body to go round it and not all motorists are helpful or pleasant about it. The cyclist behind was swinging out round this skip when the horn went, hence why I reckon that was the problem.

As the blue car hared towards me I decided to gutter-hug briefly as this was clearly a driver with issues, plus the bus lane was ahead where I'd be 'safe'. He passed me but then swung left into said bus lane and undertook two cars before swinging right again across two lanes to get into the right-turn filter lane! What a c*ck.

The other cyclists caught up with me at the lights and I asked if he was ok and what on earth that guy's problem was. He was, it has to be said, a rather dishy Frenchman on a rather lovely bike. (There was no birting Mr Weenie, but you would have had only yourself to blame if there had been.)

'Prrrr aps ee eez just one of zose guys? Ee wheel ave to take ze bouse in ze future if ee looses eez lisense no?'

We giggled about it before he headed off ahead of me, but I couldn't help thinking that for all our laughing, that guy's an accident waiting to happen. The fact it wasn't today was just luck.

So not the right time for a fire drill

My new flat has no outdoor space at all really and I have nowhere to clean him. But I have found a solution.

Therefore, those of you who read my regular moans about just how filthy he is can now breath a sigh of relief.

At work we have a car park that's exclusively the company's as we use the whole building (several in fact). This car park is where the bike shelters are and has a couple of drains. It also has an outdoor tap.

I asked facilities the other day if I could have a bucket and explained that, having nowhere else, I'd like to clean my bike in the car park. The next day a blue plastic bucket arrived with a new sponge, a shammy AND some industrial cleaner (I used my Muc off but it was a kind thought).

I decided yesterday would be the day. We were going to press so I would take my lunch late and minimise the number of people witnessing my scrub-fest.

Down I toddled I got to work. It was a bit chilly but there's a section that's sheltered from the wind and catches the sun so Reg was tipped upside down and I scrubbed away. It took some time to dislodge the various disgusting crud that was all over him but just as I was finishing... WawaWawaWawaWawa.

Oh God, it's a fire drill.

Out trooped most of the company, witnessing me scrabbling to get all the cleaning supplies back into the bucket and get Reg upright. I then had to walk him to the meeting area as I didn't have time to lock him up and was unwilling to leave him unlocked in a deserted car park.

I withstood the ribbing from colleagues and, once we returned to the building, finished the job and he's now squeaky clean.

Oh the shame. But he is very pretty.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Well that was exhausting

My God it was windy today.

I felt knackered about 10 minutes in and I wasn't the only one. I shared the road with many weary-looking cyclists battling the wind one on more than one occasion saw someone who'd been drafting attempt an overtake only to be battered back into line by the wind.

Eugh.

It ruined my good mood somewhat. What good mood? I hear you ask. Well, since you asked, the good mood caused by my being forced to stop and strip off my jacket halfway to work. It was a hassle but is proof that spring (and therefore summer) is acoming.

I was so hot I felt like I was going to explode so had to take it off for the first time in a couple of months. Lovely.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Come on girls and boys.... dress me!

After yesterday's clearly inflammatory reference to jeggings I've decided to use my limited and tiny fame for purely selfish means.....

Where the hell can I find some cheap, long tunic/long t-shirts to wear when I cycle?

Lycra is all very well on a weekday commute and long-distance, but when I'm out and about on the weekend I'm a Cyclechic pannier, black leggings and long top kind of gal. But I can't find nice, long tunic-style tops anywhere. Lots of long jumpers, no long tops. Even my usual stalwart of Primarni has failed me. Everything long enough is TIGHT (trust me, only capital letters adequately convey just how tight).

As pointed out yesterday by both myself and others leggings only really work if the lady bit area is covered. Frankly only a gynaecologist should have to see that. (Girl I saw yesterday in Hammersmith in the fully sequinned leggings and crop top take note.)

Frankly, given the massive publicity surrounding getting women to cycle I find it a little shocking that none of the high-street brands has jumped on the bandwagon and put together some combos that are bike-friendly and fashionable.

Then again, perhaps to be truly fashionable one can't be practical. Look at Christian Lacroix, eek!

Update: Check out H&M girls!!!!!!!!!! Thank you CC for the recommendation.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Jeggings?

Since I began cycling in earnest I have become a big fan of leggings. Not just those in lycra, I'm taking about ones you wear in every day life.

Black leggings with a long jumper/t-shirt transfer beautifully from bike to going out and I even own a pair of black calf boots bought specifically for wearing with leggings. I also own a couple of pairs of crazy tights. They're thick and opaque but one pair has a stripes in shades of grey while the other has a fabulous ribbed pattern. All well and good.

However, I was recently having a wander round M&S when I realised to my horror that the new leggings I was considering, were in fact, jeggings. Leggings woven with a pattern to make them look like the skinniest of skinny jeans. And I was actually considering buying them.

I have fairly good legs (I have been complimented on them) and they would be immensely practical for cycling as they're completely opaque but I'm unsure.

Any ideas?

Monday, 8 February 2010

I nearly forgot, hurray for rugby!

So the Six Nations is back and started up this weekend.

Fr me the frontrunners are Scotland at the moment. Lovely, not too bruised and sexy accents. Checking out their squad pictures on the official RBS site the ratio of attractive normal-looking but muscly men to comedy enormous people was very encouraging.

If England get Ben Cohen back into the squad then they may win out in the hotness stakes but for now the Scots are the ones. They come a close second however. Johnny Wilkinson's a little too blonde for me but I must admit that his speaking French in the pre-match interview did raise him somewhat in my estimations. But where on earth has Sackey gone? His mini-dreds and cheeky smile have brightened up many a game for me. Plus he can run very fast on legs of hewn hardwood. Mmmmmmm

The French were hugely disappointing in the totty stakes. Although S├ębastian Cheval is not exactly beautiful, he does have magnificent legs and his absence was noted. Michelak came on briefly, but again, the legs are his primary feature.

The Irish didn't even make a dent in my consciousness I'm afraid, neither did Italy. Italian men have never really been my cup of tea and their rugby team plays this out unfortunately. Wales have a guy with a shock of hair on the front row and that took my attention for most of the match meaning I missed out on perving Welsh-style.

Anyhoo, let's see how we go eh?

Seriously filthy ft cats

Reg is now SERIOUSLY filthy.

I have nowhere to clean him and I'm deeply ashamed. Even the muddy MTBs on my commute are cleaner and I feel wretched.

Every time I look at him I'm wracked with guilt but what am I meant to do?

I'm now considering heading down to a petrol station near me armed with my bike stuff. 'A petrol station?!' I hear you cry but yes. Because the one I'm thinking of has a pressure washer. What I need is water with force behind it and I need it now!

In other news I was off on Friday as I felt so unwell so I ended up on the sofa with my darling bebes most of the day.

How wonderful it must be to be one of my cats. Mr Handsome lay sprawled across me most of the day, while The Fat One visited sporadically to rub her head against my hands and mew in a pathetic way while strutting around like she owned the place.

Who am I kidding? She does own the place.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Men and women are different, enjoy it

I am female. It's a fact and, unless I have very expensive reassignment surgery against my will, it's something that will never change.

Although I rage against my male cycling counterparts who needlessly push me around or assume they're faster than me because I'm a woman, being female does come with some remarkable benefits:

1. Lycra.
No man will ever look good in lycra, no matter how hard they try. Chris Hoy looks bloody ridiculous in it and he's incredibly toned and quite hot. Women, on the other hand, should revel in lycra. It sucks you in in all the right places and the more you cycle, the hotter you will look in it.

Plus, our genitalia are not generally visible while we're in lycra, todgers on the other hand are highly visible, as are testicles. Hello boys indeed.

2. Asking for help.
Perhaps I live among unusual men, but in my experience men are rubbish at asking for advice and/or help. Yesterday I realised my front V-brake needed adjusting. The crap bike shop that did my last service had rounded off the allen key slot and done it up incredibly tightly. I couldn't get it to budge. Therefore, when I saw the lovely N, a colleague who cycles, I asked for his help. We then met in the car park and he sorted the problem for me.

Don't get me wrong, if I have a problem I can sort myself, I'm happy to do it but I am equally happy to ask for help if I cannot do it alone.

3. The 'damsel in distress' response.
Every time I've had a puncture/mech problem somewhere public, someone has stopped and asked if I needed help. Often, it's been more than one person. When I've mentioned this to male friends they've been incredulous.

'In London?', 'Someone actually stopped?!', 'And you didn't know them?!??!?!?!'.

Yes, it would appear that being female in appearance greatly increases your chances of being offered help. Not only that but, in my experience, men are unwilling to accept mine. I have stopped and offered puncture repair help to many stricken cyclists and have been refused every time. This is despite the fact that a few of them admitted they had no repair stuff with them or didn't know what to do.

So this one's a double whammy. Women get extra help if they want it and men won't take up your time if you offer your assistance to them so you can feel all righteous without actually having to do anything.

4. Extra helpings of admiration.
While women remain in the woeful minority among cyclists it means I get extra admiration and praise for cycling. I am extra brave and a little bit naughty. While I always feign nonchalance at being told this, secretly I love it. 'Well, you know, it's only about 100 miles a week.' Inside I'm preening.

I'm sure I'll think of some more but for now I'll sign off...

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The bing is BACK

Last night I was back with a bell and I was determined to use it.

I cruised through the night daring pedestrians to step out and let me let loose. It took a couple of miles but I got lucky with a ninja pedestrian on her mobile. She started to step out....

Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing!

Yeah, that's right baby, I'm coming down the road fast and you're not on a crossing. I'll attempt not to hit you if you do end up stepping out there but this is to let you know that I exist and am painful when met at high speed.

She started a bit, gave me a filthy look and her Ugg boot retreated back to the kerb from whence it came.

I felt victorious. The bing is BACK!


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Carb-heavy equals fast cycling

Mr Weenie has an addiction. We rarely talk about it and, if I'm honest, I'm an enabler.

Unable to prepare his fix himself I often find myself doing it for him and I often end up indulging myself. Yes, Mr Weenie and I are pancake fanatics. There, I said it.

Last night we had a light supper of baked potatoes before moving onto pancakes and this morning I flew to work. I'm talking nearly 20mph on average, having to screech to a halt at traffic lights, overtaking any other cyclists and generally whizzing around like a banshee.

I left slightly late this morning and arrived at work earlier than usual.

Pancakes, food of the cycling Gods?

Monday, 1 February 2010

Lost without my binger

Over the weekend an awful thing happened.

I was merrily binging away at some pedestrians as I approached a junction at which I had a green light but they clearly hadn't seen me as they were dashing across when suddenly silence descended.

I know many cyclists who do not use their bells but so vigorous am I in using mine that on Friday night the binger flew off into the night mid-flow. The bell itself remained but is a sad shadow of its former self as it can't make any sound unless tapped sharply, an impossible task when its rider is in fleece gloves.

I have been left bereft. I had no idea just how much I depended on that tiny piece of plastic to make me happy. I have even been forced to shout 'Oi!' as a short-term measure at those who attempt to throw themselves under the wheels of my bike.

On Saturday, therefore, moomin and I popped into the local bike shop to replace my binger.

Having tried all the bells on offer and the squeezy horn (oh so tempting), we decided on one that was not only pink but has a penetrating quality. The shopkeep seemed somewhat amused at our criteria but, frankly, I know what I like in a binger and am not afraid to demand the best.

Now all I have to do is get it on my handlebars and order will be restored..